Relief and excitement were the overwhelming emotions for Afghanistan after Cricket Australia confirmed that the nation would host them for a one-off Test in Perth from Nov. 21, Afghanistan Cricket Board chief executive Lutfullah Stanikzai said.
Uncertainty had loomed over Afghanistan’s first Test against Australia due to travel and other restrictions imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19.
However, Cricket Australia on Thursday gave the day-night match the green light when it announced its summer schedule, headlined by a marquee series against India.
“There were rumors that this Test match might not go ahead, but it is a relief for us and our cricket fans that we have been given a confirmation,” Stanikzai said in an interview. “The world in general — and the cricketing world in particular — may not be the same after the coronavirus, but we have to move on and cricket has to return.”
Having had to postpone a tour of Zimbabwe next month due to travel restrictions, the importance of the match against the world’s No. 1 Test team was not lost on Stanikzai.
“It’s going to be a fantastic opportunity for our players’ development and in general for the development of Afghanistan cricket,” he said. “Everyone in the cricket world, especially in Test cricket, looks up to Australia. It’s going to be a historic and memorable occasion for Afghanistan as a new cricketing nation to play Australia in a Test match.”
The Test newcomers, who were awarded coveted red-ball status in 2017, will not be completely unknown quantities to Australian cricket fans.
Players such as Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman have become favorites in Australia’s Twenty20 Big Bash League, with their fearless hitting and economical bowling.
Afghanistan have played four Tests to date — defeats to India and the West Indies, and victories over Ireland and Bangladesh.
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